The mutterings around the GM meetings in Dana Point, CA, have it that the Jays are ready to move Lyle Overbay, possibly to the Mariners.
To which we say: Fine by us.
Don't get us wrong. We're not going to toss around that tired line about first base being a "power position", as we heard any number of JaysTalk callers spit out all season. But there's plenty of reasonable questions to be asked about Lyle. And at 32, we're guessing that his best years are already behind him.
We respect that Overbay was a high OBP guy who could hit a ton of doubles when he was right and his hand wasn't hampering him. But the two-year promise that Overbay would overcome his hand injury and return to form has not yet borne fruit.
What has returned is a player with a long swing that has too many moving parts. Weight shift, twist back, pull back hands, drop hands, step forward, through the zone with the bat. Too often, all of this sound and fury results in weak ground balls, or balls fouled directly down at his feet.
(His swing is not exactly Molitoresque in its efficiency.)
Once a doubles machine, Overbay's numbers have fallen off the table in the past two years. In 2008, he was tied for 9th amongst MLB first basemen in doubles with 32, along with Carlos Delgado, Adrian Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, and Joey Votto. Which might seem like good company, until you glance down the stat column and compare Overbay's homer total (15) against theirs: 38, 36, 25 and 24 respectively. Clearly, Overbay is just not hitting the ball hard as often as he used to, and as often as his peers currently do.
(And as a side note: Is there any one of those four first basemen that you wouldn't take over Overbay?)
More comparisons with his peers: Overbay drove in just 69 runs last year, which ranks him 22nd amongst first sackers, while his OPS was 19th.
His purported stregnth is getting on base, and yet Overbay ranked just 13th amongst first basemen in OBP.
We know that there are plenty of passionate defenders of Overbay (see, Wilner, Michael), but when you line him up against the quality of first basemen around the league today and those emerging in the next year or so, you can see how he's about to slip from a mid-range to a low-end option in very short order. We're talking Mientkiewicz territory.
It's probably time to send him and his reasonable two-year $14 million contract down the road.